Missing the playoffs this season isn’t the worst part for the Washington Redskins. It’s that the roster has only five players truly worth keeping next year.
Quarterback Robert Griffin III, running back Alfred Morris, receiver Pierre Garcon, tight end Jordan Reed and left tackle Trent Williams are foundation players. Notice the defense doesn’t have one? Nose tackle Barry Cofield, linebackers Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan and cornerback DeAngelo Hall are good, but the team could play on without them. Special teams will likely face a total makeover, too.
After four seasons, coach Mike Shanahan has only a handful of playmakers despite turning over nearly the entire roster. The defense and special teams are barren of All Pros. Old Mother Hubbard had more in her cupboards than Shanahan has.
And it might not even be Shanahan’s roster next year. Let’s see how this season finishes before forecasting coaches, but owner Dan Snyder can’t waste another year with the same miserable ending. If Griffin’s shelf life is short, it’s best to change coaches because this current regime has no answers.
It’s not economically feasible to dump a roster and start anew. There are only so many draft picks and premier free agents that can make a difference. Teams feel like they’re saddled with roughly the same major players each year.
But this time, the final weeks will be for player and coaches evaluations. Sadly, fan favorites London Fletcher and Santana Moss are probably playing their final games for Washington. It’s time for young upgrades. Same goes for the interior offensive line, safety Brandon Meriweather, punter Sav Rocca, receiver Josh Morgan, and tight ends Fred Davis and Niles Paul.
The Redskins’ 3-7 free fall (that likely will end no better than 6-10) isn’t just about Griffin recovering from offseason knee surgery, though he’s still not playing at his 2012 form. It’s the lack of overall talent and playmakers that’s preventing the team from sealing victories.
Maybe the Redskins settled for some lesser players because the $36 million salary cap sanction prevented upgrades. But the Redskins were hoping for more than this roster could deliver. There was no way the line could protect Griffin playing more as a pocket passer. The secondary wouldn’t be able to withstand facing so many top quarterbacks.
The Redskins went with Plan B too often and now have no answers to stopping opposing offenses. Griffin can’t bail out the defense this year.
A second rebuilding wave with only one division title and no playoff victories means Shanahan will be asking for several more years. Really, how long will it take — eight years, maybe 10?
The bitter truth about this roster is something the Redskins must accept if they want to get better. They’re not a Super Bowl contender.